Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Who's Cruzy Now?

Iowa Republican caucuses winner Ted Cruz's victory speech - after the obligatory nod to God - sought to project him as a grassroots anti-establishment candidate, an outsider.  The next President of the United States, he claimed, "will not be chosen by the Washington establishment" and "will not be chosen by the lobbyists".  Presumably this indicates that Cruz - a Senator in Washington, whose campaign contributors [and here] include a bunch of SuperPACs as well as the usual Wall Street suspects like the oil and gas industry and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, the controversial investment bank up to its ears in both the 2008 financial crisis and the Greek debt crisis - does not expect to become the next President!

Cruz is no stranger to self-contradiction - according to the BBC, as solicitor general "he argued in favour of the death penalty and late-term abortion bans", thereby contriving to be simultaneously both pro-life and anti-life!  But that is a contradiction he shares with most of the religious right wing in America, to whom human life is apparently more valuable before birth than afterwards.

Cruz is not of course the only Republican candidate who hasn't thought things through - Marco Rubio, third-placed Republican candidate in Iowa, blames mental illness for America's epidemic of gun violence.  At the same time, he has vowed to dismantle President Obama's health care reforms which have made health care more affordable for millions.  Perhaps he wants more untreated nutcases roaming the streets with guns?

One of the stated aims of this blog is "to make sense of the world".  Guys like this make that very difficult,

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Carrie on Dreaming

Beleaguered Chief Secretary Carrie Lam appeared on the TV news a couple of days ago at the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Fun Day in front of a banner proclaiming:
 "Your Dreams.  Our Goals."
(Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photo of this online - perhaps the media are getting tired of reporting every boring move made by senior government figures.)

Apparently this is the HKIE's slogan, not the government's latest vacuous feel-good campaign, but it did get me thinking:

Some of My Dreams
The Government’s Goal?
Real democracy
Human rights
Protection of the Country Parks
Rule of law / judicial independence
Academic freedom
Universal pension scheme
A cap on tourist numbers
Conservation of historic heritage
No white elephant projects

I guess one man’s dream is another man’s (or Party’s) nightmare.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Odd Things Happening All Over

"Very odd things are happening nowadays in the Legislative Council," says Chief Secretary Carrie Lam.  And how right she is - there is the spectacle, for example, of her government colleague, Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Greg So, arguing that the government can't approve the amendments to the Copyright Amendment Bill proposed by the pan-democrats because "they haven't been thoroughly discussed with the public".  In other words, he is arguing that LegCo should pass the bill even though, on his own admission, it has not been the subject of adequate public discussion.

It seems to be becoming a habit for this government to argue that something must be implemented immediately despite widespread objections, usually with the sop that it can be reviewed some time later (which it probably never will be).  One example of this was of course the fake universal suffrage bill.  Clearly they have never heard of the maxim "Get it right first time" (nor indeed, in many cases, grasped the concept of getting it right at all!)

Pretty odd things are going on outside LegCo as well.  For example Lifelong College, exposed by Apple Daily as peddling fake (or at least unearned) degrees to, among others, council members of Lingnan University, 17 police officers, a District Councillor (DAB, naturally - the party already has form in that area with the Quat Doctor), and a TVB actress, claims that the newspaper's exposé is “unethical”.  Richard Nixon should have tried that argument on the Washington Post.

And across the Pacific, Sarah Palin and her new best friend Donald Trump (they should form a singing duo called the Intellectual Lightweights) are blaming Barack Obama for the arrest of Palin's son, who got drunk and ran amok with a gun.  It's certainly true that mental health care for veterans could be improved, but given his mother's loopiness, Trick (what kind of name is that?) Palin's mental condition could owe as much to heredity as to his army service.

The Trump/Palin linkup is interesting.  For Palin, the lure is presumably another shot at the Vice-Presidency.  For Trump, putting Palin on the ticket could be a safeguard against assassination if he gets elected.  Who'd bump him off knowing that she was next in line to the White House?

PS - correction - that should be Track Palin, not Trick.  less tricky, but just as weird.

And yesterday Greg So told the media that the copyright bill had been the subject of very thorough public consultation - more or less the opposite of what he told LegCo the day before.   Duplicity is the word of the day.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Fairy Story

A little far-fetched, perhaps, but rather more credible than NPC member Ng Leung-sing's nasty little smear in LegCo yesterday - for which he has since half-heartedly apologised - which sounded as though he was reading it direct from a script drafted by some underling in the Liaison Office.  Ng is the idiot who asked in LegCo a few months ago if there was any health benefit from drinking lead-poisoned water.

In other fallout from this case, Page One books has, presumably under pressure, pulled anti-Beijing books from its shelves.  Time for a boycott of Page One?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hi There Fearmonger

However, we did have an intelligent conversation - that may be a bit difficult for Trump to handle.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Speaking Frankly

Today would be Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday if he was still alive - and it's interesting how reactions to Sinatra define one's age.  When I was a teenager, growing up on the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Sinatra was the epitome of unhipness (though 20 years earlier he had been the very epitome of hipness).  A liking for Frank's records then would have guaranteed the ridicule of one's classmates - though plenty of older people were still buying them.  Yet over time I came to appreciate his art and enjoy his recordings - or at least his earlier ones.

I think part of the problem was that in his later years, Frank tried too hard to keep up with the changing times.  This led him to record material - like Hey Jude, and probably Paul Simon's worst song, Mrs Robinson - that were simply not right for his voice and style.  The result was somewhat embarrassing, like seeing one's grandmother twerking.  But within his own comfort zone, Sinatra was unmatchable.  No one making the transition from youth to middle age can fail to be moved by the album September of My Years, Sinatra's meditative musical reflections on turning 50.

As a young man, I saw my musical hero Bob Dylan and Sinatra as standing at opposite ends of the musical spectrum.  yet Dylan's most recent album, the Sinatra tribute Shadows in the Night, did not come out of nowhere.  Dylan sang at Sinatra's 80th birthday celebration, and probably grew up on his music the way I did on Bob's.  We all tend to remain most attached to the music of our youth.

I will have more to say about music another time, but for now, let me just echo Bob's words: "Happy Birthday, Mr Frank".  And if you want to deliver that message musically, you may be interested to learn that the ubiquitous song Happy Birthday to You is finally out of copyright.

Country Matters

It looks like the Rotary Club of Kowloon could use some spelling lessons!  Be that as it may, at a time when the water that Hong Kong imports from the mainland has been found to be heavily contaminated with bacteria, it's a good idea to demonstrate public support for our beleaguered country parks.  In addition to supplying much of our clean fresh water, they are a vital haven for wildlife as well as being ideal for hiking, birdwatching, cycling, photography, and general relaxation - not to mention a peaceful retreat from urban noise and chaos, something that will increasingly be essential if we are to retain our sanity in the face of JHong Kong's expected population growth.

So get out and enjoy their scenic beauty tomorrow, post your pictures online, and show the government that we don't want this precious asset handed over to property developers to be smothered in concrete.

Making It Better:
Save Our Country Parks Alliance - and also on Facebook